Tag Archives: responsibility

To the Media: Do Your Damn Job

28 Nov

As you might have noticed, I am not usually someone who has a hard time coming up with things to say. Generally I am chock-full of opinions about all sorts of different things. But right now, I am simply at a loss. I really am. I feel like I went to sleep one night in a world that, though confusing, was something I was capable of working within and woke up the next morning here. In a place that makes absolutely no sense. It’s like, seriously, what the fuck is going on?!

I thought that perhaps by this point in time I would have backed away from my initial response to the election. The response that, if I had to sum it up for you, went as follows:

If you voted for Trump: fuck you.

But the thing is, the farther and farther I get from around 9:00pm on November 8th when I started crying because The Times had called  a Trump win, the more and more I double down on that sentiment. But now I would like to go ahead and actually extend that feeling of disdain beyond the confines I initially laid out for it. I would like to reach out to the media, not everyone, certainly not Charles M. Blow who is absolutely killing it, and say a big, hearty fuck you to them as well. Why? Well, I’ll tell you.

The media has a responsibility. It has a responsibility to report on the actual things that are happening out in this country and in the world. Do you know what it does not have the responsibility to do? It does not have the responsibility to normalize Donald Trump and his supports. And yet that is exactly what so much of the media has been doing since the day the sky fell down. Let me tell you a little story. Last week my friend Jessy and I were sitting in Chattanooga, Tennessee at a small restaurant downtown eating some dinner and drinking some wine. CNN was on the TV. CNN, the network that, by the way, Donald Trump called the Clinton News Network throughout his campaign. It was the night after Richard Spencer held that horrible conference in Washington, DC. So there we were, sitting, eating, trying to have a conversation about something other than the fear and disbelief that have been a mainstay in our lives since the election, when on the television screen came a video full of white nationalists giving the Hitler salute in the name of the President-elect of our country. And CNN called them the “alt-right,” a name coined by Richard Spencer himself to try and mask the true message of bigotry and racism promoted by the movement he now leads.  I was horrified but CNN, it seemed, was not so much. And it kind of led me to ask myself the following question:

Who the hell is the media trying to protect?

And then, quickly, I came to the answer:


And I understand, we all have a job to do. My job is to serve people drinks and to write about what I see and understand of the world around me. I do the latter here, where I am not accountable to anyone but myself and my readers. It is also a relatively safe space because no one has found me yet in my small corner of the Internet. I have not been the recipient of death or rape threats, have not been sent hundreds of anti-semitic memes. I am my own editor. And the thing that’s crazy is that that sort of abuse, unfortunately, seems to come with being relevant. (I can’t imagine what Charles M. Blow and other brave journalists out there doing their jobs are enduring these days.) In ways, I won’t feel as though this blog is very successful until I have a few vile haters. And I hope that if that ever happens, I have the strength and courage to double down on my beliefs and communicate them with even more gusto. I guess I won’t know until that day comes. If it does. All that being said, it is my responsibility, it is all of our responsibility, to talk about what we see, what we experience, and what we understand. It is not our responsibility, and it is certainly not the media’s responsibility, to try and justify our current situation in order to not ruffle feathers.

In fact, ruffling feathers is sort of part of the point. It is what helps to keep tyrants out of The White House.

Anyway back to my story. I sat at the bar with Jessy and I totally and completely lost my shit as I told her that never, never in my lifetime did I expect to look up at a television screen and see the Nazi salute on any station other than the History Channel. But clearly we are at a horrible place. And then, about 15 repeats of the clip later, CNN changed to a new topic: Hamilton. And I watched as a white man took the screen and lectured a female reporter on just how rude the cast of Hamilton was to Mike Pence. And I watched as she chose not to take the path of most resistance and defend them, but instead she agreed that, yes, they were very rude and yes, they were out of line, but maybe Donald Trump and Mike Pence stand for some problematic policies? Maybe?


We just watched the Nazi fucking salute like 15 seconds ago, lady! And you know what, the cast of Hamilton wasn’t rude: they were fucking afraid. They are afraid like so many of us are. And they, unlike so many, used the platform that they worked so hard to gain in order to communicate their fears in quite possibly the most straight-forward and polite way possible. They simply asked Mike Pence to look, to listen, to try and understand and maybe, just maybe, to humanize them a little bit. That is what free speech and artistic expression and the goddamn Constitution is all about.

So I guess I lied at the beginning: I do have a lot to say. But I guess what it all boils down to is this:

We are not somewhere new. We are somewhere old and horrible. We are somewhere that humanity has been before and it is about time we have the courage to call this what it is. We have the President-elect asking for the registration of Muslims. We have groups that used to be fringe but seem to be moving more and more into the mainstream calling for the release of phone numbers and addresses of teachers who they deem un-American. And we have a media who is so afraid of doing its goddamn job that it allows Donald Trump’s childish Twitter account to bury every news story of any value. Remember that Times article from Hitler’s rise where they said that Hitler wasn’t actually a threat? Where they said that he didn’t really mean all the things he was saying? Does that sound familiar? Because it should. Maybe the Times is calling a spade a spade this time, more or less, but a lot of other outlets are not. We have been here before. We have the power to impact the outcome.

We Do Not Deserve Trump

1 Nov

So first and foremost I want you all to know that I am incredibly, incredibly stressed about this campaign. My stomach has been acting up in ways it hasn’t acted up since college and every mention of the possibility of a Hillary loss sends my heart dropping through my feet with such speed and intensity that it blows a hole through the ground beneath me and just keeps falling on and on forever. I have been #withher since the early days and proudly so. And no, this is not because she is a woman although that certainly helps. It is true that I have asked my close girlfriends repeatedly where we all want to be watching when the first woman is elected President of the United States of America. The significance, you see, is not lost on me. But the significance of the Rise of the Matriarchy, as we have begun to call it, is also not what made me support Hillary from the jump, even over the perceived Messiah Bernie Sanders. I have simply just believed that she is the best person, not the best woman, but the best person for the job. That does not mean, however, that I think she is perfect. None of us are. She has made her fair share of mistakes. So have I. But 30 years of public service shows me that she has the work ethic and the desire to do the job to the best of her ability and I honestly believe that her ability is of a higher quality than anyone else’s at the current moment. I cannot wait to vote for her next week. I’ll probably cry. And I cannot wait to sit somewhere, with my friends, and watch as she wins the election. I will definitely bawl. And the next day I will celebrate, and maybe the day after that. But then the work will begin anew because for me, the election of Hillary is not the ends. It is just one step in a long, long process that will never end but will hopefully, bit by painful and hard-earned bit, bring us to a better place than we are today. A better place for everyone. And so, with that out there, I have something to say.

We do not deserve a President Trump.

Did you all read that? Did you all understand? Because time and time again on my timeline and on the timeline of my friends, as well as in newspaper columns and magazines, I have read as people have said that maybe we should get a President Trump because we deserve him. And time and time again I have looked up the person who uttered those words and that person has been white. Oftentimes male, sometimes female, but basically always white. And here’s the thing. Among all people, straight, white cis males will be least affected, although by no means unaffected, by a Trump Presidency. The rest of us though? We will be massively impacted to varying degrees. A Trump Presidency more or less means a Pence Presidency and Pence is a scary dude. And Trump, for his part, has traded almost exclusively in hatred, bigotry and lies. This is a less safe country than it was at the beginning of this campaign season and I don’t think the unease and violence will end with the election of a President Hillary Clinton. What Trump has done throughout this campaign has been to empower the people who we least want empowered. He has made David Duke national news again. He has tapped into white supremacist groups that regularly use racist, bigoted, misogynist and anti-semitic language. He has made them believe that their language, their hate, is welcome in mainstream politics; he has released them all from under the rocks and from deep within the caves where they have long been hiding. And what’s really scary is that as the language seeps out from the depths of the internet where it’s been alive and well, albeit somewhat cordoned off, from the majority of users, what we become accustomed to begins to change. My fear is that a Trump Presidency will mean that that vitriol will leak drip, by drip out into the mainstream so that what we will just shrug our shoulders and walk away from shaking our heads are the things that get us red-faced and angry today. I’m afraid we will become  increasingly numb to the ugliness among us. And that petrifies me.

So I guess what I am saying is that I wish people wouldn’t be so irresponsibly glib. We should all think about what we’re saying. We deserve a President Trump as much as Germany deserved Hitler; as much as Columbia deserved Pinochet; as much as England deserved Thatcher; as much as Syria deserves Assad; as much as The Philippines deserve Duterte. Which is to say not at all. What we deserve is to be a better country for everyone than we are today and a President Trump would be better for no one, not a soul, not even Donald Trump himself.

So get out there, friends. Vote. Volunteer. Donate. I know a lot of you don’t like Hillary Clinton and I understand that, that’s okay. We all have our own opinions. But one thing that I can say for certain is that no person will ever be perfect, no person will ever be the ideal President for every single person. But this is not an election between the lesser of two evils. This is an election between an existentially dangerous showman and a highly qualified person. We don’t deserve a President Trump. We deserve the best that we can get and as far as I’m concerned, that’s Hillary Clinton. And if you don’t do it for yourself, if you don’t vote for you, vote on behalf of all the people who are being kept from the polls through questionable practices and intimidation; vote on behalf of the women who want control over their reproductive health; vote on behalf of the people of color living in inner cities who have heard their communities blasted as hell holes throughout this entire election; vote on behalf of the millions of people throughout the world who still see America as a beacon of freedom, safety and possibility. Vote on behalf of them. Because a President Trump doesn’t just fuck us, he fucks the world. And the world doesn’t have a say in our elections but we certainly do. So let’s do the right thing here.

Let’s bring Trump down and send those of his supporters who traffic in bigotry and hatred down with him. We have room for a lot of people here in the United States of America, but we don’t have room for that.

Just a Few Words on Doxxing

10 Jun

So over the past 24 hours or so I received quite a number of nice comments from my friends on the internet.  So thank you all for sharing your opinions with me.  A special thanks goes to the individual who sent me a link to this article about a woman in Washington who was diagnosed with PTSD after experiencing extensive online bullying.  This Twitter user was concerned about the effects of online bullying on my delicate psyche and advised me to be sure to get to a psychiatric hospital stat.  See?  (Mostly I was hoping to show off the fact that I learned how to embed a Tweet in my blog.  I still have a few kinks to work out, clearly.)

I just want to let @QuayBangz know that here in New York we have access to all sorts of top of the line medical facilities!  That being said, I think I will be okay but thanks so very much for your concern.

I also was hoping to address a comment I received from Jonathan Taylor of the website “A Voice for Male Students.”  He pointed out a few concerns he had about my post so I was hoping to address one of them in particular.  In his well-organized list of points* he said the following:

Emma’s email address and picture were all publicly available before the AVFMS article. Doxxing is when someone exposes private information that others have taken pains to hide. This is not the case here, where she voluntarily and of her own initiative provided all the information to the world. Gathering information together that another person has given you is not the same as doxxing.

Actually, according to a Wikipedia entry on doxxing,

Doxing (spelling variant Doxxing) is an abbreviation of document tracing, the Internet-based practice of researching and publishing personally identifiable information about an individual.  The methods employed in pursuit of this information range from searching publicly available databases and social media websites like Facebook to hacking and social engineering. It is closely related to cyber-vigilantism, hacktivism, and cyber-bullying.

And then here from the Economist:

The term “dox” (also spelt “doxx”, and short for “[dropping] documents”) first came into vogue as a verb around a decade ago, referring to malicious hackers’ habit of collecting personal and private information, including home addresses and national identity numbers. The data are often released publicly against a person’s wishes.

So, providing her photograph and email address, even though it could be easily found on the internet, does in fact fall under the umbrella of doxxing.

So here’s the thing about it.  Doxxing is not illegal, at the moment anyway.  The law is always a few years behind technology so it will be interesting to see how we deal with these sorts of issues in the coming years.  That being said, even if doxxing were illegal, I doubt that Mr. Taylor’s publishing of Emma’s photograph and email address would make waves considering the extreme ways other people doxx those who they are intimidated by.  But I also think that most of us on the internet, and especially intelligent individuals like Mr. Taylor seems to be, are able to follow the potential chain of events through to their logical conclusions.  If we have been blogging long enough, we are more or less aware of who our audience is.  I don’t have a very broad readership so most of the people who consistently read my blogs are people I know, or people who know people I know.  (Except for all the people who read this post about my dad which I am still super perplexed by.)  Even still, I try to err on the side of responsibility.  What I am trying to say is that Mr. Taylor is aware of who his readers are.  He has a very detailed Mission Statement and explains in detail The Nine Values that all posts associated with his site will adhere to.  This is part of the description of those Values:

The goal of advocacy is not to win per se, but rather to win over. We do so by demonstrating to the world in our words and actions how our values differ from those with whom we disagree, and how our values make the world a better place to live. To that end, for those officially affiliated with this website, these Nine Values are not suggestions which we may accept or dismiss as the mood suits us, but rather a code of conduct reflecting the high standards by which the quality and integrity of this website will be maintained and the degree to which we will be successful.

The thing is that I have spent only the better part of the last week scrolling through various MRA (or MHRA as some prefer to call it) websites and on just about all of them have encountered a lot of hateful words and misguided articles.  I would bet a fair sum of money that Mr. Taylor is perfectly aware of the tendency of the more radical people associated with his movement.  He knows they read him.  He knows the opinions that they have and the ways they express them.  I think it would be safe for me to assume that, by posting Emma’s email address on his own website, he would inspire less “principled” people to respond in kind and I think that was entirely irresponsible.  By Googling Emma, I discovered her email on various MRA websites calling her all sorts of names that I prefer not to repeat here.  It is all well and good to adhere to your own standards, but that sort of goes out the window when you let other people do your dirty work for you.

I don’t know.  We’re all adults here.  Mr. Taylor and his supporters, as I have said before, are welcome to their own opinions and the nonviolent expression of those opinions.  I am guaranteed this same thing, as is Emma and her co-activists in Detroit.  But I also think there should be a reasonable assumption that people won’t hit below the belt, as it were.  That being said, feel free to email me at franklyrebekah@gmail.com if you feel so inclined.  We can engage in an adult conversation there.  I might quote you here, but no matter how available your email address, home address, place of employment or photographs are, they will never appear on this site.

*This was not intended to be sarcastic in the least.  He sent me a comment with numbered points which I really appreciated.  I love listing things.

The term “dox” (also spelt “doxx”, and short for “[dropping] documents”) first came into vogue as a verb around a decade ago, referring to malicious hackers’ habit of collecting personal and private information, including home addresses and national identity numbers. The data are often released publicly against a person’s wishes. – See more at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/03/economist-explains-9#sthash.NJlPdAi

Change is A’Comin

16 Mar

I have been doing quite a bit of thinking over the past few weeks.  My life has been in a certain amount of upheaval, in a good way I think.  It’s funny the way that we almost predict things before they happen.  I remember sitting with one of my best friends, a massively important part of my chosen family really, and saying to her that I felt like I was waking up day after day and not getting anywhere.  Like, I could go to sleep 30 and wake up 26, look around and things would look more or less the same.  I mean, obviously that’s not exactly the truth.  A lot has happened in the past 4 years.  I have met a lot of people, gotten my Master’s degree, started this blog, gotten into a serious relationship.  But in many ways I felt as though I had been running in place.  People would ask me what was new and I felt I could just shrug my shoulders and, to me, that felt like a pretty accurate representation of what had been happening since whenever it was that we last spoke.  But then I went ahead and I burned the whole thing down.

A few weeks ago I was thinking back to what a bad ass I was in high school.  I was so fucking principled and like, I just didn’t give a fuck.  I mean, not that I would hurt people without thinking twice about it, but I always sort of felt like when I was right I was right and authority could suck it.  I didn’t speak my mind for the sake of it, because I thought it was fun or something.  I would say something when I thought, for whatever reason, that it needed saying.  Like the time I got kicked out of homeroom for refusing to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance because I didn’t understand why I should be forced to acknowledge the existence of a god I didn’t know I believed in.  Or the time I got my chemistry teacher fired for reading our grades out loud in class and throwing a chair, not all on the same day.  Or the time I marched myself into the principal’s office, slammed down my AP scores and chastised him for having the nerve to disallow students from challenging themselves because he was afraid of how anything less than a 5 on those AP tests would effect our school’s ranking on some bullshit list of the best public schools in the country.  Seriously, what’s education if your educators tell you you’re too stupid to try something that might be hard?  I mean, these were all sort of silly little things I got all upset about for whatever reason but I got upset and then I said something.  Over the years though I have become slightly more pragmatic, thinking about the long term effects of saying something versus the importance of standing up for something you believe in.  Although that might be a good thing some times, it made me lose sight of myself a little and now, at 30, I want a little piece of my 16-year-old self back.

At some point over the past however many years I decided that my own feelings about things were sort of irrelevant, as long as other people felt good.  I would sort of tie myself in knots in an ill-fated effort to make sure everyone around me felt happy and supported.  The thing about it though is that you simply cannot make everyone happy all the time and if you try, well then you are just a fool.  There are people that will just keep taking and never return the favor.  There are red flags that shoot up in certain relationships that just cannot be ignored forever because those people will turn their backs on you when you finally need something in return.  And then there are those people, some of whom have been there all along and some who come out of nowhere, that step up to fill in the gaps.  I don’t know, people are surprising.

So here is what I have realized.  Putting everyone before yourself is stupid because it leaves you completely hallowed out and incapable of asking for anything in return.  I think that keeping this blog has really been an exercise in reteaching myself that lesson.  I sit at my computer and write about my experiences in the most accurate way possible.  I try and be kind, unless of course I am recounting some story about someone being an asshole in which case kindness is really an afterthought. Honestly, I believe when people are cruel they should be held accountable.  Anyway, then I publish it and let people read it on their own.  I like to think that my going through life, trying to be as decent a person as I can be is enough information for people to understand that my motives in writing are never to be mean or hurtful.  The reality that I need to remind myself of is that just as I bring my own experiences to the table when I write what I do, other people bring their own experiences when they read it.  I cannot expect people to interpret my words the way I want them to.  When I put my words out there, it is entirely out of my hands.  People are going to take from it what they take from it and I have to be okay with that.  Sometimes people are going to feel hurt, even if I do everything in my power to keep that from happening.  It is, unfortunately, inevitable. And so I have to stop beating myself up about it and just realize I cannot be in control of how people see me and think of me.  All I can do is go through life trying to be as good as I can without compromising myself in the process.

So here’s what I am going to do.  I am going to go back to the version of me that didn’t get anxious about people being upset with me all the time.  I’m going to stand up for myself in my relationships more than I have over the past few years.  I am not going to just sit idly by while my life just sort of happens.  If something isn’t working for me, I am going to change it.  And all the while I will try and write about it here.  So, wish me luck and hopefully you’ll all still like me.  If not?  Well, I don’t know.  I guess we will cross that bridge when and if we come to it.

When I Realize I’m My Own Worst Enemy

29 Apr

These lyrics from Ben Folds Five pretty much sum up how I am feeling right now:

She says, “Everywhere I go, damn, there I am.”

Here I am, sitting at the study center, working on my thesis while regularly checking my email to see if an old professor of mine, a professor to whom I still owe a paper, a paper whose completion, or lack thereof, will determine my ability to graduate from this damn program in a little over a month, will allow me to actually write the paper after all this time.  And I really want to be mad at someone about it.  I want to be mad at the professor for making the classroom environment, and therefore my learning experience, so massively unpleasant.  I want to be mad at the two professors who attempted to advise me earlier in this thesis process and, through their utter lack of engagement, made me feel dumb and inadequate.  I want to be mad at the tendency of academia to celebrate those who publish more than those who teach better, for causing my program to lose so many talented professors while keeping people who act as though teaching is a small requirement they must fulfill en route to raising their own status in the field.  But when it comes down to it, that would just be a technique in avoidance.  That would just be an attempt to place the blame on someone else when, in reality, it lands squarely on my shoulders.  I am the one who didn’t write the paper.  I am the one who let the actions of others determine my perception of my own self-worth.  I am the one who put all this off until the last possible moment when I knew I would already be at a loss for time and drowning in deadlines and stress.  I am the one.  Only me.  And sometimes that is the hardest thing to deal with.  But here I am, dealing with it, and figuring out how to get out of my own damn way.

If only I was flexible enough to kick my own ass.